La Costa Film Festival kicks off Thursday; high schoolers get to screen films

La Costa Film Festival kicks off Thursday; high schoolers get to screen films
The La Costa Film Festival kicks off Oct. 13 at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad. The four-day event features 43 films, the Reel Pitch competition, panels, juries and more. Courtesy photo

CARLSBAD — As the lineup grows, so do the options for fans and filmmakers alike.

The La Costa Film Festival, which begins Oct. 13 at the Omni La Costa Resort, also provides an avenue for teenage and college-aged filmmakers.

Haylie Bantle, 18, is one of three finalists for the high school short program and represents Carlsbad High School. The other entries include films from Rancho Buena Vista High School and Canyon Crest Academy.

“I was really stoked,” Bantle said of hearing she was a finalist. “I ran upstairs to my mom and dad and said, ‘I’m a finalist for the film festival.’”

Although a college freshman at Chapman University, Bantle submitted her four-minute documentary during her senior year at CHS. Coincidentally, Chapman University earned one entry into the college division, along with two from Florida State University.

Bantle picked up the filmmaking bug during her tenure at CHS and its renowned broadcast program. She is continuing her pursuit of a career in film in the News and Documentary program at Chapman.

Her film, “Crop Swap,” tackles food insecurity and how one local organization is addressing those in need of fresh, healthy food.

“I had a project for my broadcasting class in high school and had to find a story and make a documentary on the topic of poverty,” Bantle explained. “We went with the focus of food insecurity.”

The high school and college competition, meanwhile, is the newest addition to festival, according to co-founder Ruby Callihan. She said all six short films will be shown together starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium.

However, fans will determine the winners, as each attendee will receive a ballot.

“We wanted to give our own local audience the opportunity to make those decisions,” Callihan said. “They’ll be notified and presented their award and check on Saturday evening. They each get $500 to continue their pursuit of filmmaking. It’s definitely a must see.”

As for the rest of the festival, the four-day event features 43 films in nearly two dozen screenings, the Reel Pitch competition, panels, juries and awarding actor Chris Noth the first-ever Shining Star Award. In addition, a special showing of “Top Gun” is on tap for the movie’s 30th anniversary.

The festival premiere, meanwhile, kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Omni with the Sip and Savor. A trio of celebrity chefs will judge the food, wine and beer selections, Callihan said.

From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., select guests will walk the red carpet, while the showing of “Three Days in August” begins at 8:30 p.m. A question and answer session follows the film.

While the schedule is packed, Callihan said word of the festival is growing. Web traffic is up threefold from last year and early tickets sales are also up.

“The atmosphere is exciting and we have an amazing program,” Callihan said. “We are headed in the right direction. In the next couple days, we can do some serious promoting.”

For tickets, schedules and other information, visit


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